Child Passenger Safety
Written by Rita Donaldson, MPH, BSN, RN
Occupant Protection Liaison
Certified CPS Technician & Instructor
Safer New Mexico Now
This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an on-going awareness campaign addressing all the areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. CHIC has designated March as the month to bring awareness to child passenger safety through a program supported by Safer New Mexico Now.
Child Passenger Safety (CPS) is an incredibly important public health issue. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children across the Nation. In New Mexico last year, 13 children age fourteen and younger died. (NMDOT)
Unfortunately, the child passenger safety issue escapes the attention of many parents, day care centers, summer camps, and law-makers. The public tends to view the death or serious injury of a child in a motor vehicle crash as an “accident” rather than a preventable event.
Sadly, 4 out of 5 child safety seats are used wrong, and by just using a child safety seat correctly, the chance of death can be reduced by up to 71%. To ensure a child’s best chance of survival, parents and caregivers are encouraged to consult with a CPS technician in their community.
Safer New Mexico Now (Safer) was founded in 1985, with the goal of reducing deaths and injuries on New Mexico's roadways, which at the time, held one of the highest fatality rates in the Nation.
Through continued, collaborative traffic safety initiatives, our State currently ranks 13th in traffic fatalities and among the highest in seat-belt use. Today, Safer continues to lead effective efforts to advance traffic safety throughout the State, with the belief that the best way to battle traffic-related death and injury is through education and prevention.
Safer’s CPS education and community capacity-building efforts include: the New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program (NMCSSDP); Child Safety Seat Fitting Station Program; Child Safety Seat Clinic Program; the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) CPS Technician Certification Program; and the annual Buckle Up New Mexico (BUNM) Recertification Training. These programs serve to address the lack of awareness, education and resources, and to empower our New Mexico communities to better understand and take action to save lives.
Through the NMCSSDP, low-income families can receive brand new, low-cost child safety seats and education about their proper use at participating facilities including hospitals and public health offices. Last year, 44 distribution sites participated in the program statewide. These sites distributed 2,083 child safety seats to families who could not otherwise afford one.
The Fitting Station and Clinic Programs provide parents and caregivers an opportunity to receive personal “hands-on” instruction on the proper selection, installation, and use of child safety seats from certified CPS technicians. Fitting stations occur at an established location, by appointment only, and on a regular schedule; there are currently nine fitting station locations throughout New Mexico. Child safety seat clinics are held at random locations and occur periodically.
Last year, 63 clinics were held statewide, during which almost 1,000 child safety seats were inspected for proper use.
The purpose of the NHTSA CPS Certification Program is to train CPS Technicians. This is a 32-hour Nationally-standardized course open to all those with a vested interest in CPS. The course is offered four times annually, and there are nine Certified CPS Instructors who teach the course throughout the State. The BUNM Recertification Training is open to all certified CPS Technicians in New Mexico to provide continuing education and networking opportunities. Currently, New Mexico has 411 certified CPS Technicians, representing 24 counties in more than 50 cities/towns throughout the State.
CPS Technicians are eager to work with parents and caregivers in their communities. For more information regarding any of the programs that Safer New Mexico Now offers, or to learn more about the CPS resources in your community, please call
1-800-231-6145 or visit www.safernm.org.
Safer New Mexico Now